Author: MovinnGrovin

Rarotonga

 

The final destination of our 2016 travels!!!!  We spent our last week reflecting and basking in the sun one last time on a tropical island.  Looking to get off the beaten path we decided to venture to the South Pacific Island of Rarotonga.  Rarotonga is one of the 15 islands that make up the Cook Islands nation.  It's distinct feature is a wall of coral reef that completely surrounds the entire island, creating a barrier from the ocean (where the waves crash daily) and a lagoon with crystal clear waters that boarder the awesome sandy beaches.

 

We rented a small cottage on the ocean for 7 nights, drank piña colada's, snorkeled daily and soaked in the island paradise.  The absolute perfect place to cap off one hell of a year...

 

 

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our perfectly hidden beach cottage
our perfectly hidden beach cottage
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our new friends and cottage owners treated to dinner
our new friends and cottage owners treated to dinner
Sharyn, the best
Sharyn, the best
full moon on our last night
full moon on our last night
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Our last night out for dinner...

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that's a wrap!
that's a wrap!

2016 was one hell of a journey, hard to comprehend at times. It was an emotional final night on the island for us.

 

We learned numerous life lessons along the way, forever solidified our love for travel, made friends in all corners of the world, are grateful for the love and support we received from family and friends, LOVED all the visitors we spent time with in Argentina, South Africa, England, Ireland, Greece, and Italy and truly truly appreciate all the comments received from those that followed along... thank you!!!

 

We sign off from an airport waiting to board our final flight back home, to the best there is the US of A!  Although this is our last post of 2016, we have a feeling it may not be our last trip around the world! 

 

We’ve counted, at least another 40 countries we want to explore!

 

Stay tuned!

Laura & Sean

New Zealand

The South Island

We took a flight from Gold Coast, Australia to the New Zealand South Island city of Queenstown.  New Zealand consists of two primary regions, the South and North Island.  Both islands offer different landscapes, climate and culture.  They do however have something in common, awesome locals known as “Kiwis”.   We would spend the next 14 days exploring both incredible islands by car.  On the South Island we started in the city of Queenstown, in our minds, the most beautiful city on either island, took a boat cruise to the Milford Sound, drove along the tropical Western coastline to Fox Glacier, hiked the Abel Tasman Track, one of New Zealand’s “9 Great Walks” and rented a cottage (literally in the middle of a wine vineyard) where we allocated two days to tasting wine in the Marlborough region.  Highlights below from our time exploring the beautiful South Island…

Queenstown
Queenstown

Waited in a long line to grab a Fergburger with a new friend.  Considered one of the best burgers in the world and worth the wait!  (but still no Au Cheval!)

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The journey to Milford Sound and our road trip exploring the beautiful Western coast...

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Laura leaves a bra for a good cause
Laura leaves a bra for a good cause
a lavender farm
a lavender farm
the "pancake" rocks
the "pancake" rocks
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A hike along the Abel Tasman Track...

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lunch on the beach
lunch on the beach

Our winery crawl for some of the worlds best Sauvignon blanc...

vineyard view from our room
vineyard view from our room
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Gibson Bridge Vineyard
Gibson Bridge Vineyard
Brancott Estate Heritage Winery
Brancott Estate Heritage Winery
Cloudy Bay Winery
Cloudy Bay Winery
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The North Island

After our two days of wine tasting, we hopped a three hour ferry (with our car) from South to North Island.  From there we ventured into a vast and rugged landscape filled with geothermal hot springs, bubbling mud, a beach “Cathedral”, hobbits and the occasional volcano.  Our North Island highlight, an 8 hour hike through the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, considered one of the most beautiful day hikes not only in New Zealand but around the world.  It was an eerie landscape like no other and home to Emerald Lakes and  “Mt. Doom” of Lord of The Rings.  Not since Patagonia have we been in such awe of a places natural uniqueness and beauty.  Highlights below from our time exploring the wild North Island…

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volcano
volcano

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing...

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Laura and "Mt. Doom"
Laura and "Mt. Doom"
The "Red Crater"
The "Red Crater"
Emerald Lakes
Emerald Lakes
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Geothermal hot springs and gurgling mud, Rotorua...

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Lounging at the awesome Te Whanganui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove)...

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digging self-made baths at Hot Water Beach
digging self-made baths at Hot Water Beach
new Kiwi home owners first Christmas Tree
new Kiwi home owners first Christmas Tree

A visit to hobbits in "The Shire"...

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NZ: 3 million people, 60 million SHEEP!
NZ: 3 million people, 60 million SHEEP!
Mānuka honey
Mānuka honey
The Shire
The Shire

No landscape dramatically changed more often than what we have seen during our travels in New Zealand, truly a wild and beautiful place with wonderful people and some of the best hospitality!  Loved our visit there.

 

The local Kiwis also gave us some good advise.  As our travels come to an end we decided to spend our last full week on an island in the South Pacific, we looked into Fiji or the French Polynesia.  However we heard over and over again from those in New Zealand about one particular place we hadn't considered.  A place off the beaten path that the Kiwis, familiar with this side of the world, assured was our must go to destination.  More to come in our final post of 2016...

Australia

 

G'day mate!  After 3 months of travel through Asia we had arrived in a new part of the world.  We would spend more than two weeks exploring by car the vast Australia landscape, the sixth largest country by total area in the world.

 

We camped and slept in caravan parks along the Eastern coastal states of Queenstown and New South Wales and along the way encountered kangaroo, koala, and wild horses, went surfing in Byron Bay, scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef, and even made a pit stop for Laura to try on Australian wedding dresses (Sean, of course, wasn't allowed to attend!).

 

The Aussie coast was pristine and peaceful, however it all began in the awesome and bustling Sydney, the most populous city in Australia and home to the worlds largest natural harbour.  Our first stop, a visit to the iconic Sydney Opera House, one of the worlds most distinct and creative arts centers...

Laura taking in the Sydney harbour and Opera House view
Laura taking in the Sydney harbour and Opera House view
Sydney's central business district
Sydney's central business district
Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House
Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House

Our Sydney home base was the Coogee Beach neighborhood, a place Sean had frequented years ago while visiting his younger sister Kelly who lived there while studying at the University of New South Wales.  It was our favorite part of the city and home to a coastal walk well known by locals that leads to Bondi Beach...

our neighborhood beach for a few nights, Coogee
our neighborhood beach for a few nights, Coogee
along the coastal walk to Bondi...
along the coastal walk to Bondi...
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After spending the last few weeks in Southeast Asia it was a nice change of pace to hang in Sydney and Coogee, a place that reminded us more of home (particularly the burgers!).  After catching up on western cuisine and the comforts of Sydney, we hopped a 2 hour flight north to Hamilton Island and from there a ferry to the town of Airlie Beach, which would be our home base for our scuba diving adventure.

 

This was an Australian activity that we had highly anticipated, in fact, it something that we had planned to do even before we left for our round the world trip, scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef.  Laura's sister Kristen bought her a weekend scuba diving certification course in Boston the Christmas prior to leaving for our travels in prep for this moment (Sean had already been certified).  So here we are, 11 months later in Australia and after a 3 hour boat ride to the outer reef, it was go time...

gearing up!
gearing up!
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last minute prep!
last minute prep!

and we're off...

that's Laura in front, with the cool pink flippers
that's Laura in front, with the cool pink flippers
big fish encounter
big fish encounter
the coral...
the coral...
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Sean hangin
Sean hangin
sea turtle!
sea turtle!
hello from "down unda"
hello from "down unda"
the outer reef
the outer reef
all smiles after an awesome day
all smiles after an awesome day
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After our memorable day on the Great Barrier Reef we rented a car and spent the next 10 nights driving the East coast... road trip!  We stayed in campsites and parks along the ocean and since we didn't have camping equipment, bought just enough gear to get by as we turned the back of our car into a comfortable bed!  We met interesting people along the way, ate our dinners on the beach, visited the Australia Zoo, and enjoyed every minute of a simple lifestyle...

Sean sleeping in after night 1
Sean sleeping in after night 1
this camp had a waterslide for Sean...
this camp had a waterslide for Sean...
and trampoline for Laura, so awesome!
and trampoline for Laura, so awesome!

Day 2...

wild horses
wild horses
Laura prepares dinner
Laura prepares dinner
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Sean pulls a late night with our rowdy Aussie neighbors!
Sean pulls a late night with our rowdy Aussie neighbors!

Day 3, a visit to the Australian Zoo...

Seasons Greetings from our Aussie Fam
Seasons Greetings from our Aussie Fam
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crikey!
crikey!
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red panda
red panda
oh shhleeps
oh shhleeps
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Day 4...

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our backyard
our backyard
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We spent the remainder of our time in the hip and funky Byron Bay...

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live music with locals
live music with locals
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Day trip... Laura to try on wedding dresses and drink champagne!

Grace Loves Lace "appointment in progress"
Grace Loves Lace "appointment in progress"
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Laura strolls while Sean surfs...

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First off, a thank you to our sisters!  Kelly for the recommendations in Coogee and Sydney and Kristen for the scuba diving classes last December in Boston, love you both!  Loved our time in Australia too.

 

There isn't much in life that can top a coastal road trip, one that includes koalas and scuba diving to boot!  The warm open air of Australia and its coast was the perfect way to kick off our last few weeks of travel.  However it's time to get rough and head to a world filled with rugged mountains, geothermal parks, volcanos... and hobbits.  Next stop, Middle Earth aka New Zealand!

Siem Reap, Cambodia

 

We made our way West from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam over the border and into Cambodia, where we would spend a very quick weekend exploring the city of Siem Reap and its surrounding ruins and temples, met up with Bigsy for a few drinks (a friend we met during our stay in Malaysia), swam in a swimming pool as it down poured rain, and treated ourselves to a couple massages (Sean's was an insane 8 hand massage!).

 

We played tourist during our visit to Siem Reap and would visit the ancient royal city of Angkor Thom, wound our way through the tree roots and vines that are iconic of Ta Prohm, and of course explored the world renown Angkor Watt, home to the remains of the Khmer civilization.... all of which made us feel as we were walking through scenes of an Indiana Jones movie.

 

Our very quick recap begins with sunrise at Angkor Watt...

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Off to Angkor Thom...

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Finally our favorite, the out of this world trees that engulf  Ta Prohm...

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Late night on "Pub Street"

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Our visit to Siem Reap, Cambodia was brief, but the ruins left a lasting impression.  The country has delicious food (we enjoyed Amok) and we hear an incredible coast and countryside... perhaps places to explore during a future visit!

 

We departed Cambodia for our final Asian destination, very sad that time flies by so fast!  It's off to Southern Thailand to explore the Thai islands of the Andaman Sea!

Thai Beaches & The Andaman Sea

 

After a quick visit to Cambodia we flew to Thailand to kick off 9 nights of Thai beach hopping.  We started in Bangkok, flew to Phuket, took numerous long boats and ferries, and eventually spent the majority of our time scootering around the island of Koh Lanta and swimming in the crystal clear waters of Railay Beach West & East in Krabi.  As a heads up, there isn't much cultural content in this post, as we literally spent 9 nights swimming, snorkeling, and walking along various beaches... which by the way, we had a hell of a time doing!

 

Recap below from our time exploring the waters of the Andaman Sea...

this Bangkok restaurant also turned out to be our laundromat hah
this Bangkok restaurant also turned out to be our laundromat hah

Thai street food, probably the best...

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pad thai in an omelette!
pad thai in an omelette!

First stop, Railay Beach East & West in Krabi...

shortly after this it actually poured rain on our bags!
shortly after this it actually poured rain on our bags!
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It dawns on us as we walk the beach that it's Halloween...

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We decide to act quick as we must partake in the holiday.  Laura gives Sean an idea and he gets into costume, Tom Hanks in Castaway...

Wilson!!!!!
Wilson!!!!!

The next day same island, different beach and our favorite visited while in Thailand, Phra Nang...

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'downtown'
'downtown'
the result of TERRIBLE food poisoning: rice, eggs and toast for 4 days!
the result of TERRIBLE food poisoning: rice, eggs and toast for 4 days!

From Krabi it was off to Koh Lanta.  Our boat ride was highlighted by an insane swim through a long, wavy, and pitch dark cave which lead to a beach hidden within a random small island...

cave to beach!
cave to beach!
into the cave, the swim was actually really difficult ha!
into the cave, the swim was actually really difficult ha!
we made it!
we made it!
view of the hidden beach... and our lifejacket wearing fellow tourists
view of the hidden beach... and our lifejacket wearing fellow tourists
local residence
local residence
surprise... we're home owners!
surprise... we're home owners!

Snorkel session...

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Island livin...

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Besides the food poising, island life was good to us and a great way to cap off our epic time traveling for the past 3 months in Asia.  It truly is crazy how fast time flies!  Unfortunately, the final phase of our world tour is upon us.  However we are incredibly excited to mix things up, with only 3 countries remaining on our journey we kick things off on a new continent in the land down unda... first stop Sydney, Australia!

Vietnam

 

Located on the South China Sea, Vietnam is well known in Southeast Asia for its beautiful beaches, rivers, and bustling cities.  It's a place, like so many, with a difficult history defined by years of war.  Originally colonized by the French, it is one of the few remaining communist countries in the world today (and we paid for it, literally, with the most expensive visa entry fee by far during our travels).  It's history and ever changing landscape was fascinating to us.  As always, so was the food!  In particular the bánh mì sandwich - a baguette (inspired by previous French rule) stuffed full of Vietnamese spices and inspired flavors - Sean ate at least 2 or 3 a day!

 

We explored the capital city of Hanoi and its centuries old inspired French architecture, sailed overnight to the stunning Ha Long Bay filled with hundreds of limestone islands covered by rainforest, swam in the South China Sea near the port city of Hoi An, and wandered the streets of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon).  A recap of our travels throughout Vietnam...

 

the streets of Hanoi
the streets of Hanoi
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we watched as she meticulously set up shop for 15 minutes...
we watched as she meticulously set up shop for 15 minutes...
... she was the cutest, so we bought something
... she was the cutest, so we bought something

Per usual this side of the world, more of the craziest street food...

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we think one tub contained electric eels!
we think one tub contained electric eels!

Our overnight sailing excursion and kayaking through Ha Long Bay...

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Ha Long Bay
Ha Long Bay
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colorful cave
colorful cave
heading back to port
heading back to port

The next day we flew south to Hoi An, explored the quaint port town and scootered along the South China Sea coast...

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Laura joining the evening tradition
Laura joining the evening tradition
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a local fishing boat and the South China Sea
a local fishing boat and the South China Sea

We spent more than a few days lounging along the coast before wrapping up our journey with a a quick stay in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon)...

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It's hard to keep putting into words how much we have enjoyed our travels to date.  Vietnam, like so many others, was incredibly unique in its own way.  That's maybe what we have begun to appreciate most, how different everywhere and everything is.

 

The world has so much to offer.  Our next stop, in particular, has Hindu temples and ruins that are the envy of many others around the globe, it's off to Siem Reap, Cambodia to explore ancient ruins engulfed by trees and worlds largest religious monument, Angkor Watt!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

 

From Myanmar we made our way to Chiang Mai, a quick pit stop to the city in the mountainous Northern Thailand.  Chiang Mai is known in Southeast Asia for having some of the best local street food and markets.  As a result, we ate and shopped our way through the city, Sean ate grasshopper and meal worms and Laura nearly doubled her backpack with cloths and items bought from local street vendors!

 

However our primary objective in Chiang Mai: elephants.  Chiang Mai is home to numerous elephant parks including the Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary and rescue center for elephants considered to be one of the most animal and eco friendly in the country and very important for their future survival and wellbeing as elephants are used not only for circus and street acts in Thailand, but also for numerous forms of dangerous and even deadly labor.  We spent a day at the park learning about, feeding, and bathing elephants.  It was the highlight of our quick visit to Northern Thailand!

 

From the street markets, to the elephants and even attending a rowdy Muay Thai event for date night, a quick update on our pit stop in the Northern Thai city...

night markets and street food, let the eating commence!
night markets and street food, let the eating commence!
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local monks in prayer
local monks in prayer

Our day visit to the Elephant Nature Park...

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Sean offers some watermelon
Sean offers some watermelon
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Laura hanging with the heard
Laura hanging with the heard
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taking a stroll
taking a stroll
Laura pets...
Laura pets...
... and Sean attempts an elle hug
... and Sean attempts an elle hug

Bath time.

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After an awesome day with the elephants, we head back to the city and gamble with more exotic street food.  Sean eats (and really enjoys) worms, crickets, and grasshoppers... said the grasshopper tasted like a french fry!

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The following evening we attended a Muay Thai event.  Muay Thai is a world renown combat sport of Thailand that uses stand-up striking.  It was a packed house filled with many locals and foreigners, an interesting experience...

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The food was incredible and elephants a blast to play with.  Chiang Mai was a perfect place for us to hang for a few nights before departing for our next destination... a 10 day excursion through Vietnam!

Myanmar

 

During our trip we often get asked vague questions by fellow travelers such as "what's the best place we've been?" or "best thing we've eaten?", questions that are very difficult for us to answer!  However every once in a while we travel to a destination that distinguishes itself from another (based on our personal experiences anyway).  If you were to ask us what was one of the best cultural experiences we've had to date interacting with a local people the answer would be easy, one of our favorites has been time spent with the Burmese people during our visit to Myanmar.

 

Myanmar, formally known around around the world as Burma, is a country with a complex history.  It has incredible people, fascinating landscapes and ancient structures that have more or less been off limits until political reform in 2010, where after years of isolation Myanmar lifted a complicated tourism boycott that would better allow tourists to enter and explore a place relatively untouched for the previous 15 years.

 

From children showing us the river where they swim, to a family inviting us into their home where a young girl applies a local cosmetic called thanaka on Laura's face, to Sean joining kids off the beaten path in a game we would best describe as "soccer volleyball" or even having a woman wearing "long neck" brass rings cut off a piece of his beard (ha!) 0ur interaction with the people of Myanmar was incredible.  It's also tough to beat the impressive style and volume of buddhist pagodas (temples) that are scattered throughout the country!  Favorites below from our time exploring the very different cities of Yangon, Inle Lake, Bagan, and Mandalay...

 

Our first stop from Nepal would be the city of Yangon, home to the Shwedagon Pagoda, the most sacred Buddisht pagoda in Myanmar as it is believed to contain relics of the four previous Buddahs.  It's crown is tipped with an incredible 5,448 diamonds, 2,317 rubies, and at the very top a diamond bud tipped with a 76 carat diamond! (of course Laura contemplated how to scale the pagoda)

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Laura and curious little one
Laura and curious little one
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Lunch before our overnight bus ride (never fun!) to Inle Lake...

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our sleeping quarters
our sleeping quarters

After our overnight bus arrived at 5am, we took a quick nap before cruising along the famed Inle Lake.  Surrounded by marshes and floating gardens and where Buddhist temples rise from the water, Inle Lake is home to locals living above the water in stilt-house villages...

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Yes she is holding scissors and yes she cut Sean's beard, well needed!

yes she is holding scissors and yes she cut Sean's beard, well needed!
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children's roller rink
children's roller rink
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After a two night stay in Inle Lake we took another overnight bus (a common way to travel in Myanmar, ugh!) to the city of Bagan.  Bagan, an ancient city in central Myanmar known for the Bagan Archaeological Area, is home to more than 2,000 Buddhist pagodas and monuments.  We arrived at 4:30am, left our bags in our hotel, and immediately got dropped off at a large pagoda in Old Bagan where we scaled the top to catch sunrise over pagodas that surround the area...

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incredible sunrise, Old Bagan
incredible sunrise, Old Bagan

We spent the afternoon and following day exploring Bagan, highlighted by more memorable interactions with the local people...

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he wanted to show us "his river" and wear Sean's helmet
he wanted to show us "his river" and wear Sean's helmet

A family in a nearby village was intrigued by us walking around, they invited us into their home and a young girl applied thanaka, a yellowish-white cosmetic paste made from ground bark, to Laura's face.  Thanaka is a distinctive feature of the culture of Myanmar, commonly worn on the faces of both women and men for cosmetic beauty, it also gives a cooling sensation and provides protection from the sun.

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In the evening, on a dirt field surrounded by beautiful pagodas, little kids invited Sean to play a game.  It was intense, the kids took it seriously ha!

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pagoda pit stop on our cruise, one of many
pagoda pit stop on our cruise, one of many

From Bagan we hopped on another bus to Mandalay, where we hung out before concluding our Myanmar adventure at the U Bein Bridge.  The bridge was built around 1850 and is believed to be the oldest and longest teakwood bridge in the world...

U Bein Bridge
U Bein Bridge
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we didn't know exactly what it was, Sean attempted to eat it
we didn't know exactly what it was, Sean attempted to eat it

Myanmar was a place that taught us to appreciate a simple way of life.  The beauty of it's landscape and people blew us away and we are grateful for the time spent there.  Yet again however we must move onward.  We head Southeast and across a boarder, next stop... Chiang Mai, Thailand!

Nepal

Kathmandu & The Himalayas

We departed the desert landscape of Dubai and headed for the mountains. Our goal, a hike amongst the most imposing and towering mountain range in the world, the Himalayas.   Just how tall are the mountains in the Himalaya range?  To put it in perspective: the highest elevation in the United States is Denali, located in Alaska at 20,310 ft. The tallest mountain in the world outside of Asia is Aconcagua in South America, more than 2,000 feet taller than Denali at 22, 828 ft.

 

However NONE of the mountains mentioned above crack the 23,000 ft mark. Here is the mind blowing bit of info, the Himalayas have MORE THAN A HUNDRED MOUNTAINS that exceed the 23,600 ft mark! The tallest of course, Mt Everest, stands at 29,000 ft, twice the size of the tallest peak in Colorado, insane!

 

We would spend 7 nights in Nepal.  Due to time, resources, and equipment scaling Everest would have to be a future endeavor.  We decided to hike along the Annapurna Circuit, home to Himalaya Mt. Annapurna, the 10th tallest mountain in the world at 26,545 ft.  After a long layover and dinner in New Dehli, India (which is another story) we arrived in Nepal's capital city of Kathmandu.  We explored the city for 2 days, caught up with friend Alex (the zip-line safety instructor who supervised our flight in Malaysia), met our guide who would be leading us on our 4 night trek, and booked a white water rafting trip to cap off the hike!

 

Some favorite memories below from our adventure in Nepal.

 

Kicked things off in Kathmandu...

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the action packed Durbar Square
the action packed Durbar Square

A visit to Swayambhunath "Monkey Temple"...

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she approached us as she recognized Sean's beard from the day before ha
she approached us as she recognized Sean's beard from the day before ha
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The next morning we met our guide Suresh (pronounced SueRice) who outlined the game plan for our 4 night trek, highlighted with an early morning hike up Poon Hill to watch the sunrise above Annapurna and the Himalaya range.

Suresh
Suresh
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we passed many villages along the way
we passed many villages along the way

The sleeping arrangements were called "tea houses" found in villages, some were very basic but perfect after a long day trek!

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Day 2...

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Perhaps the most inspiring moment of our travels occurred during our day 2 trek in Nepal.  While hiking uphill for an hour, exhausted, we approached a group of 15 people.  About 5 of the 15 were moving at a much noticeably slower pace.  As we caught up we understood why, they had prosthetic legs.  They were struggling with every step, but continued to push themselves to the limit to scale the mountain.  It was incredible to witness their determination.  It was both emotional and inspiring.  We chatted with one girl in particular, Adrianne, who lost her leg as an innocent bystander during the Boston Marathon bombings 3 years ago.  Adrianne wished us luck as we continued onward, "see you at the top" she said.

each an inspiration hiking with a prosthetic leg, Adrianne between us
each an inspiration hiking with a prosthetic leg, Adrianne between us
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camp for the evening
camp for the evening

The following morning it was up at 3:30AM for an hour trek to the top of Poon Hill to witness the sunrise over the Himalayas and Annapurna.

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camp night 3
camp night 3

Our last day would be spent descending through villages down the mountain towards the town of Pokhara, where we would spend our final evening prior to our 4 hour white water rafting trip...

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The hike was incredible, another truly memorable experience during our journey!  Sean got Laura rafting afterwards for the first time ever too...

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Loved our time in Nepal, will be back for Everest!  From the mountains to the mysterious land of pagodas, off to Myanmar!

Dubai

 

From the quite countryside of Sri Lanka to the bustiling metropolis of Dubai!  Like Singapore, Dubai was a city that would be a hub for us prior to departing for our next bigger adventure, so we decided to make a trip out of it.  Located in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai is an Arabian Peninsula nation settled along the Persian Gulf and one of the countries 7 main cities or "emirate".

 

The emirate is world renown for its luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and lively nightlife scene.  We spent our time exploring with a visit to the Dubai Fountain, a walk through the largest mall in the world (Laura had to contain her shopping), a stop by the aquarium, a climb up the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world and the tallest damn thing we have ever seen!) and finally capped it all off with a dip in the Persian Gulf!  A quick recap from our brief time in the insanely unique one of a kind desert metropolis...

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ultra modern city skyline
ultra modern city skyline
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Burj Khalifa, tallest (by far) in the world!
Burj Khalifa, tallest (by far) in the world!
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To the top of the Burj!

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where desert meets sea
where desert meets sea

Dubai aquarium...

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A swim in the Persian Gulf...

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Laura taking in the scene
Laura taking in the scene

The joy of our travel is having flexibility to explore any part of the world.  Dubai was not a place we initially expected to get to, however it was incredible to experience and we loved our quick visit.  Afterwards we left the desert and headed for the mountains, from the tallest building in the world to the tallest mountains, off to Nepal to for a week of trekking along the imposing Himalayas!